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A Look at William Lyon Mackenzie King in the 1920s-30s

Many people consider William Lyon Mackenzie King to be Canadas greatest Prime Minister. He became leader of the Liberal party in 1919 after the death of Wilfred Laurier and then was elected as Prime Minister in 1921 and remained Prime Minister until 19301. He was reelected in 1935 and Remained in power until 1938. Mackenzie King was an excellent Canadian leader due to his methodical decision making process which was optimized to achieve the goals of all Canadians. King was born in 1874 in New Berlin, or what would come to be known as Kitchener Ontario. He took courses in economics and law at the universities of Toronto and Chicago. He graduated in 1897 and took a job as the Deputy Minister of the new department of Labour in the year 1900. King became a member of the liberal party and was voted into the House of Commons in the 1908 election. King kept this seat for 3 years until 1911, and then he found work as a labour consultant for the Rockefeller Foundation. He ran as an MP in the 1917 election but failed to win a seat. King was elected as the leader of the liberal party in 1919, and became the Prime Minister of Canada when the Liberals won the 1921 election. He was strongly supported in Quebec because of his position against conscription during the 1917 conscription crisis2. This was because of his choice to make decisions based on the opinions of all Canadians and not just the majority.
1

Bolotta, Angelo, Dennis Gerrard, and Denise Shortt. "Causes of World War II." In Canada, face of a

nation. Scarborough, Ont.: Gage Educational Pub., 2000. 139.


2

"The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King Biography." Collections Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/4/h4-3256-e.html

Kings first order of business was to lower tariffs and freight charges to further the wishes of the farmers on the prairies3. This move was sound in theory, but in practice these charges were not lowered as much as the farmers would like, so they turned their support towards the new progressive party. King lost a vote of confidence in 1926 and Arthur Meighen was asked by Governor General Byng to become Prime Minister. This government lasted four days before Mackenzie King questioned the constitutional right of Meighen to govern. Meighen lost the vote and an election was called4. The liberals won the election and King was back in power. During the 1926-1930 term, King decided to make use of the good fortune of the Roaring Twenties to reduce war debt and he introduced the old age pension system. The Liberals lost the 1930 election to the Conservatives, which eventually proved to be in their best interest, for it was the conservatives that were associated with the worst of the Great Depression, and the Liberals won the election again in 1935. Kings views on politics can be expressed in this quote; "It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in Government." (Mackenzie King, August 26, 1936)5. What he was talking about preventing was all the political nonsense that usually comes with the position of Prime Minister. King never gave inspiring speeches or maintained a false image or stood for any radical values, he was an honest man who ran the political machine of Canada and nothing else, he was the man Canadians wanted to lead them.

"The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King Biography." Collections Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/4/h4-3256-e.html 4 Bowering, George. "Mackenzie Kink." In Stone country: an unauthorized history of Canada . Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2003. 237 5 "The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King Biography." Collections Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/4/h4-3256-e.html

Mackenzie King had a few unusual pastimes, some of which were not known of until after he died. He was very spiritual and would often have conversations with his dead mother and other deceased relatives. He would also consult his crystal ball for important decisions. One of his more visible pastimes was to dote upon his dog Pat; he would often entertain dinner guests by singing with his dog, and often frightening them in the process6. A more practical hobby was to collect stones from old buildings being demolished in Ottawa and reassemble them in his Gatineau Hills estate, many of which still stand today7. National unity was the top priority of King and his government8; he realized that this didnt mean that all Canadians had to believe the same things, rather accommodating for many different viewpoints within Canada. King was a good leader because he always made sure he knew the needs of all Canadians before he made a decision. He remained popular with the majority of Canadians and even after he retired in 1948, the Liberals were re-elected twice and remained in power for eight more years, truly a testament to Kings popularity.

Bolotta, Angelo, Dennis Gerrard, and Denise Shortt. "Causes of World War II." In Canada, face of a

nation. Scarborough, Ont.: Gage Educational Pub., 2000. 139.


7

"The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King." The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King. http://www3.sympatico.ca/goweezer/canada/king.htm
8

"KING, William Lyon Mackenzie." In The Encyclopedia Americana. International Ed. New York:

Americana Corp., 1968. 434.

A Look at William Lyon Mackenzie King in the 1920s-30s

Jeffrey Guy

CHC2DB Mr. Ellement November 25th 2013

Bibliography
Bolotta, Angelo, Dennis Gerrard, and Denise Shortt. "Causes of World War II." In Canada, face of a nation. Scarborough, Ont.: Gage Educational Pub., 2000. 139. Bowering, George. "Mackenzie Kink." In Stone country: an unauthorized history of Canada. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2003. 230-46. Neatby, Blair. "William Lyon Mackenzie King." The Canadian Encyclopedia. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/william-lyon-mackenzie-king (accessed November 21, 2013). "KING, William Lyon Mackenzie." In The Encyclopedia Americana. International Ed. New York: Americana Corp., 1968. 434. "The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King." The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King. http://www3.sympatico.ca/goweezer/canada/king.htm (accessed November 24, 2013). "The Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King Biography." Collections Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/4/h4-3256-e.html (accessed November 23, 2013). Citations by Bibme.org